Musician visits high school

Mike Rivard with Bernadette Peters.

Composer and bassist Mike Rivard talked to Forest Lake High School students Nov. 12 about his career in the music industry.

Rivard graduated from Forest Lake High School in 1981, after playing in the band led by Rollin Nelson. He moved to Boston to attend the Berklee College of Music with a scholarship from the local chapter of the Sweet Adelines.

In a phone conversation, Rivard expressed his gratitude to Nelson and to the women’s choral group.

Since graduating from Berklee, Rivard has played with John Medeski and Billy Martin, Either/Orchestra, James Taylor, Bernadette Peters, Carly Simon, Jonatha Brooke, Aimee Mann, Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole, and the Boston Pops.

In 1998 he started his own band called Club d’Elf, combining jazz, dub, electronica, world music, rock and hip hop.

The only permanent member, Rivard forms the core of the group, which has traveled as far away as Tokyo.

In nine years the band has released seven live double-CDs, and in 2006 its first studio disc, “Now I Understand.”

Rivard received the Boston Music Award in 2007 for Outstanding Jazz Act.

Rivard also performs with world music groups Natraj & Grand Fatilla.

His Broadway resume includes tours of Wicked, Disney’s The Lion King, The Color Purple, and Mary Poppins.

For the past 10 years Rivard has studied the Moroccan music of the Gnawa and the Berber people of the Atlas mountains, learning to play the sintir, the three-string bass lute used in all-night trance-healing ceremonies by the Gnawa.

For more information visit his website at